Garlicky Fennel Walnut Pesto

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Freshly grown organic produce is always appreciated. What makes it super special is when you have grown it yourself with a group of coworkers. In a communal planting effort my organization SAS helped order planters, organic seedlings, gardening tools and organized us into teams. Our planter was bursting at the seams and it was time to harvest.

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My kind coworker did the needful snipping. I returned to my desk after teaching a class to find swiss chard and fennel fronds. I had an idea for the swiss chard, but fennel fronds ? I’ve heard of using the fennel root, but not fronds.. What was I going to do.. looking at the green colour, pesto kept coming to mind.

So here’s my quick and easy garlicky fennel walnut pesto.

2 cups fennel fronds, washed
1 cup organic walnuts
1 tsp fresh lime juice
Spice Mix
2 hot thai chili peppers
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
5 cloves garlic
½ tsp urad dal
Salt to taste

Method

• Wash and cut fennel fronds into smaller bits. Throw away any woody stems, but reserve the tender stems for the pesto. Set aside.

20140721_165141 - Copy• Heat coconut oil in pan.

• Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the urad seeds, hot chili peppers and garlic.

• Stir everything till lightly brown.

• Add fennel fronds and walnut and saute till fennel is soft.

• Grind everything in food processor till lightly grainy. You can always grind it fine, I just happen to like the grainy texture.

• Add salt and freshly squeezed lime juice.

• I served the pesto with rice noodles and it was yummy. You can choose to serve it with pasta or even just steamed rice and paired with baked sweet potato rounds. Heaven!!

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–charuyoga–

Baked Sweet Potato Fries for fasters & non fasters

20140706_185018Monday is almost here. Time to get ready for a cleanse.

I’ve been doing a cleanse every Monday following my Delhi habit. Every Monday in the UNESCO office in new Delhi, my coworkers and I would fast. To ostensibly pray for something we have been yearning for. And the side benefit, is the really really healthy feeling we had all day. No ravenous hunger, just steady metabolism. It was a good chance to work off all the weekend over eating. We broke fast at dinner time eating a light meal when we got home.

But Indian fasts are not what you think they are. They are a lot of fun. Nuts, and fruits all day and sipping warm herbal tea. My favourite part however was lunch time. We skipped all grains, but allowed ourselves a potato or even better sweet potato done up home fries style.

Fries can be really greasy so I tried a baked version of my favourite root- Sweet potato. And the results : Magnifique! as the French might say. Try it out, and see if you don’t believe me. Better still, why not join our Monday detox- delhi style. You can do it from wherever you are.. We created a facebook page so its easy to keep track of our Monday schedule. Feel free to join in.

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2 cups sweet potato, washed, scrubbed and cut fries size Spice Mix
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coconut oil
Salt to taste

Method
• Wash and scrub sweet potato thoroughly. Cut into fries size.

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• Soak in water
• Meanwhile heat oven to 3250 F
• Rinse cast iron pan and let dry in heating oven
• Rinse out soaking sweet potato fries and dry thoroughly using clean kitchen towel
• Take dry cast iron pan from oven.
• Pour 1 tsp coconut oil into pan. Add spices and dry sweet potato fries
• Mix fries with spiced coconut oil so that fries are completely coated with the spice mix
• Return pan to oven
• In 10 minutes or less turn the fries over
• Again in 10 minutes or less remove fries
• Enjoy with coconut chutney or simply by themselves

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Kale Quinoa Potato Rosti with Yoghurt Raita

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HELP! I never thought I’d see this day!! I’ve become one of those Kale addicts. I can’t have enough of it, and have been making so many new recipes with Kale. I shall share all of them in the days that follow.

First though the rosti I made today was divine. I think I might have died and gone to heaven. IT was that spectacular.

Oh and by the way, I’ve also turned into a gluten free monster. So that’s why quinoa & no wheat in this flatbread or rosti however you wish to call it.

Quinoa by the way is fast becoming a staple in my heritage. Southern Indian Brahmins have been using all sorts of gluten free grains  in cereal for generations. Another amazing recipe to follow soon from my childhood bestie. So why quinoa? Other than an amazing protein kick, its also not high in carb, plus its awesomely gluten free. Being heavily into yoga, I constantly monitor my reaction to foods and being sensitive to their impact on my body, read BELLY! Wheat has gotten a bad rap. My objection to wheat is not because of what I’ve been reading. I’m pretty simple in that way. I listen to my body and it doesn’t like wheat, the bloating and the weight gain and the general feeling of lethargy after a wheat meal, I can do without.

Kale has been worshipped for quite a while now. I’ve been a bit slow on getting on the kale bandwagon, but now that I’m on it, no looking back for this chica :)

In this recipe, I used the easiest way to make flatbreads, mix everything together & cook on the griddle.

1 cup boiled red potato, peeled and mashed
1 cup washed and finely chopped kale, woody stems removed
¼ cup red onions, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
¾ cup quinoa flour
Spice Mix
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp gunpowder(or lesser depending on your heat tolerance)
½ tsp roasted and ground cumin seeds
½ tsp mango powder
Pinch hing
Salt to taste

Method

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• Mix together potatoes, onions, kale, quinoa and spices.

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Lightly bind together with about ¼ cup water(go slow on water adding a little at a time, you don’t want the dough to get too runny)

 

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• Heat cast iron griddle
• Make 7 round balls of spiced dough

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• Roll each one in flour and then press in hands to flatten
• Do as much hand pressing as possible since quinoa lacks gluten so it will tend to fall apart if you use rolling pin too much
• When hands have flattened dough as much as possible, then coat dough in flour and roll out lightly.
• Cook on griddle till both sides are well cooked
• Add a dollop of butter or coconut oil
• Serve with yoghurt raita sprinkled with roasted cumin powder.
• ENJOY!!

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– soul of spice –

Shauccha – the first Do in yoga

Sitting in the port of entry in Toronto Pearson Airport, a bit afraid. a bit fearful, a bit stressed. Why? I was waiting to be interviewed by the customs officer to enter the US to present at a work conference.

Why the fear? This was my 3rd trip to the port of entry. The first time I went with a company sponsored Nexus letter, to allow me to easily cross the border skipping the long snaking lines. But the Nexus office in niagara falls wanted to see more paperwork from my organization.

I went back & my organization prepared a letter for me which I now took to Toronto Pearson airport’s port of entry. After a long wait, the officer called his super and they decided I still didn’t have enough paperwork to justify my presenting at US conferences about 4 times annually. I did think they were rather abrupt with me that time. But more on that later.
Back to work again this time the lawyers from the US office got involved and diligently prepared the legal documents. This whole process involving several work departments took about a month. Just in time for me to travel to Milwaukee to headline a SAS user conference.

Today I arrived at the airport bright and early.. How early? Try about 6 hours ahead of my flight departure time :) I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.

Monday is also the Delhi detox cleanse that friends & I do together. Living on nuts and fruits and maybe some a cup of tea and breaking fast at dinner time.

Why a cleanse? Shaucha is the first Niyama or Do’s of Yoga. Hard to do a direct translate from sanskrit to english, so loosely translated Niyama means rules, there are 5 niyamas in yoga. Shaucha is the first one meaning ‘to purify” or “to cleanse”.
Practicing shaucha externally is through body work like yoga asanas and taking in the purest of foods, easily digestible so that the body is able to make the least possible effort to digest. Leaving the body and mind to become free to do other important things, more important than digesting food all day long :)

Shauccha is also internal, so the idea is to think pure thoughts, and burn down the ego slowly and steadily. The same ego that makes us attach ourselves, me to myself as charu. Often comes in the way of progress. Why does this stop us from evolving? Well, when our focus is constantly on the needs of ourselves instead of what is needed and what is best for each situation, then progress is pretty far away. I don’t by any means call myself a realized yogi, just someone intensely infinitely passionately attracted by the process of self-enquiry that yoga has shown me.

Today while sitting in the customs waiting room, I wondered: what would it be like to take on some mental cleansing? What would it be like to focus on the officer’s job? Instead of cursing him for not giving me the visa last time, I started to imagine his day. All day he has to meet with travelers with tons of paperwork. He has to be constantly aware that crime rates have gone up. He cannot begin to be soft with anyone in case he lets the wrong traveler across the border. He sits chair bound with no access to natural light that streams in in my workplace. He has to limit conversation to questions that can only be answered with a Yes or No response. Empathy flooded over me and I didn’t have one negative thought about the officer.

Shaucha can be internal and external. Through the delhi detox cleanse, we go about cleaning the internal organs & freeing our digestive process of heavy duty work. Through thinking pure thoughts, through selfless thoughts as I tried out.. not thinking about the poor little me, but focussing on the officer and his needs, we purify the internal self, the instrument of the mind, so it reaches that space of quiet and calm where it can function freely and with true intelligence, not complicated by thoughts and emotions, rather focus on the task on hand. I just love yoga on how this over 5000 year old practice brings so much wisdon to daily life and provides an awesome way to navigate through the sometimes rolling waters of llfe.

I’m sure you know the end to this story. It just turned out I had the most stellar experience with all the officers I met. Every single one of them was polite and helpful. None of them gave me a hard time, like I had the previous 2 times.

Let’s see what the master Patanjali has to say about cleansing the mind:
“By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind” – sutra 1.33

Finally let’s wrap it up with the master’s advice again on mental purity.
सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च॥४१॥
sattvashuddhisoumanasyaikaagriyendriyajayaatmadarshanayogyatvaani
“Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, one-pointedness, mastery over the senses, and fitness for Self-realization.” -Sutra 2.41

I had a great cleanse today. I hope you get to try on shaucha next Monday.. Maybe begin with the external cleanse of limiting food to no grains. And then try taking on internal cleansing. Shaucha guards the mind, body and spirit against the elements of illness, disease, deception and mental anguish.

I’ll leave you with a musical piece that is my favorite, I love the pleasing scale which helps create a soothing balance in mind & body.

Monday Delhi Detox

E10155721_1492515177629971_7028454109076267073_nvery Monday was fast day while I was in Delhi. I had no idea of the mind body benefits then. It was just a thing all the women did, & I joined in.

Since I’ve restarted my delhi detox, I’ve had everyone I meet want to be part of it :) .

Several friends commented on my increased energy levels & fit body.

I thought I’d share how I felt when I ended my Monday fast :

· Improved energy levels during the day
· No fatigue even though I ate no carbs
· Light amount of hunger, nothing like the huge hunger I feel every day for dinner
· Slept well at night
· Didn’t’ fight with my mom 
· Clear breathing
· Flatter belly 
· Able to do yoga at 10 pm at night without complaining that I needed to sleep.

I’d also like to invite you to fast with me on Mondays, starting coming Monday.

Want to join my Monday fast-Delhi style, For easy posts, I’ve created a facebook page. Head over & like it.

https://www.facebook.com/ApsaraAlive

.. You’ll find HOW-TO.. Yesterday was the first of the series. Super easy to do…and major benefits…

Btw, its not a complete fast.. its a partial fast till sunset..

See you at next monday’s delhi detox.. looking forward to having you join in..

pl. check out my yoga youtube channel

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By now you probably guessed I’m well into yoga!! this is me flying on my recent yoga vacation. Well, almost!!

I’m so excited about my news. I’ve been doing yoga since I was a kid.. and been teaching it for over.. 15 years. Now I have my youtuble channel. Where I’m sharing valuable content through fun videos and yoga poses for health & Beauty.

Pl. pl. take a look & subscribe. The more people that subscribe, the better my chances of impressing my business partner that my content is valuable..

please also like my facebook page. I post valuable yoga tips on health & beauty of course..https://www.facebook.com/ApsaraAlive

Oh! and I forgot to add, my friend helped me create a blog page also.. so pl. do take a second to follow that too..http://apsaraaliveyoga.wordpress.com/

thanks a million. and do let me know through your comments what you’d like me to share!!